In April 2022, Governor Kim Reynolds introduced a new program called Destination Iowa. The program is designed to bolster the quality of life in Iowa’s communities and attract visitors and new residents by virtue of a $100 million investment across the state. These dollars will be spread across four separate funds: Economically Significant Development, Outdoor Recreation, Tourism Attraction, and Creative Placemaking.
Destination Iowa will provide new grant opportunities to create and invest in transformational, shovel-ready attractions to raise Iowa’s profile, welcome out-of-state travelers, and increase tourism spending. It will also spur local economies and contribute to efforts designed around adding exciting amenities for current residents and newcomers to Iowa’s workforce.
Siouxland leaders, including Matt Salvatore – City of Sioux City Parks and Recreation Director – and executives with The Siouxland Initiative, joined forces to submit a significant regional trail connection project. The proposal aims to leverage state funding under the Outdoor Recreation fund, which contains $40 million. This unique opportunity allowed the community to combine five trail projects that were each at various stages of completion:
➢ Cone Mountain Bike Park – 9 miles of natural surface mountain biking trails
➢ Floyd River Trail Connection – 0.9 miles connecting the Riverfront Trail to the Floyd River Trail
➢ PlyWood Trail Connection – 11.5 miles connecting Le Mars to Merrill and Sioux City to Hinton
➢ Big Sioux River Pedestrian Bridge Connection – 0.2 miles connecting Sioux City to Dakota Dunes, SD
➢ Loess Hills Scenic Trail – 4.3 miles connecting Sioux City to Sergeant Bluff
By combining these projects, local funding approached 60%, which is the percentage required by Destination Iowa to be considered for its 40% funding match. Through very generous contributions from individuals and organizations in Siouxland’s private sector, $2.2 million was raised in 14 days achieving the crucial 60% requirement.
Applications to Destination Iowa were due on May 9, 2022, and Sioux City’s project was the first application received. In total, community-wide trail projects estimated at $19 million were submitted. Private and public contributions totaled $11.4 million, making the Siouxland region’s total request from the Destination Iowa grant program nearly $7.6 million.
If the grant proposal is successful, connecting Sioux City, Hinton, Le Mars, Merrill, Sergeant Bluff, and Dakota Dunes, SD, will enhance the quality of life throughout Siouxland and pave the way for years of creative events and activities for the residents and visitors to enjoy.
By Brad Newton, Director of Economic Development & Workforce Solutions, The Siouxland Initiative